One on One Photography Workshop with GMB Akash (Part I)

Almost two years ago, I developed a One on One, personalized workshop for individuals who came to Bangladesh from all over the world to participate. Each of the 11 photographers with whom I’ve worked so far, have come to me with their specific goals and aspirations.

It has been an extraordinary opportunity for international participants and for me to intensely share different perspectives, cultural and aesthetic viewpoints as well as to have unusually rewarding experiences in the unique and colorful Bangladeshi culture. This workshop has provided some rare and thought-provoking photographic results by the participants who have been challenged to achieve their personal objectives.

Each of the 11 photographers with whom I’ve worked so far has come to me with their specific goals and aspirations.

Meet three of those participants here exhibiting their work and discussing their experiences during the One on One workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Sharing 3 students’ work

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Lorrie Dallek came from Atlanta, Georgia, USA to attend the ‘One on One workshop’ with me in Bangladesh. She has been doing photography for more than 10 years professionally concentrating on social documentary and has been travelling continually to feed her passion. She wanted to explore photography from a different perspective which has brought her to take part in this customized photography workshop with me. The workshop has assured her of the perfect combination of practice and theory leading to a progressive improvement of her pictures and giving her a profound experience within a professional environment.

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Mahesh Krishnamurthy came from Indonesia to attend the ‘One on One workshop’ with me in Bangladesh. He has travelled to more than 100 countries and his passion for photography has brought him to Dhaka to participate in this in-depth workshop.

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Volker Eichhorn, an engineer, came from Germany to attend the ‘One on One workshop’ with me in Bangladesh. He started photographing at the age of 15 with a fully mechanical SLR camera. At the end of 2006 he moved to Switzerland and until 2015 he was mainly focusing on travel photography: landscapes (panoramas) and people. Confessing to being shy in approaching people for photos, he was shooting them from some distance with a longer lens. Therefore, his principal reason for selecting the ‘One on One’ workshop with me was to broaden his scope and learn more about approaching and shooting people in a natural state while they were working or doing something at home or just resting. With the workshop’s combination of theory and practice and with intense discussions of his work in the field, Volker was able to progressively improve his shots of people giving him the confidence and skills to help him attain his goals.

 

To check other participants’ work visit my workshop website: http://www.gmbakashworkshop.com

If you are interested in joining this exclusive program send an email to receive further details to akashphoto@gmail.com

About the workshop: The focus of this customized program is to teach photography going beyond boundaries. Each student will have exclusive access to me through the duration of the workshop, giving them the opportunity to take advantage of my work experience, teachings, and methodologies. Each workshop is six days long and set in locations that are rich in culture with a wealth of photographic and documentary subject matter.

 

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‘Heroes of Life’ – Part II

‘Heroes of Life’ – are those incredible humans who always find their way to light and love. They had known defeat, sufferingand strugglesyet they possess a beautiful story in their hearts, which is worthy to share with the world.

Sharing 10 real life stories which will definitely melt your heart

Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash

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Every day it was my task to wait for my father in the evening. I waited, and waited for him to arrive home from our village market. When he returned with his happy face, my first question was “what did you bring for me today?” As always the reply was with another question, “who will bring you sweets every day when I won’t be here anymore?” I used to always laugh at his questions and replied “who? You don’t know who my husband will be!” I don’t remember my mother; I lost her when I was only two years old. My father is the only one who took care of me the last six years of his life. After that my aunty took me with her as a servant.

How time flies! We have been together for the last ten years. People say we are a very happy couple. We were actually very young when we first met. This is our love marriage. I met him first at my aunt’s house when he was there for a job. I first saw him when I opened the door. He was looking at me and unintentionally I smiled at him and fortunately he smiled back. I can’t explain that heavenly moment when I fell in love. From that day on he started coming in front of our house every single day. I could see him waiting at the grocery shop in front of our house from our veranda. After a month I managed to talk to him with my cousin. I could not stop myself from asking him why he came every day in front of our house and waited looking at our veranda? He didn’t answer my question but rather asked me another question, “will you marry me?”

I have no regrets even though we are very poor. We have almost nothing except a bed. Together we earn a very little amount of money but we are never hopeless about our earning and our life. We understand each other completely. The most valued part is that we love each other unconditionally. We help each other in our tasks. He helps me even with my household work. He takes cares for our daughter when I work. When I go to take bath in our nearby river he always comes with me for my safekeeping. He always pays attention for us even if I do something silly. He helps me in every possible way. Our slum’s women are surely jealous of me. I am certainly blessed with him.

My only regret in my whole life is that my father could not see how happy I am with my husband. I cry almost every night going to sleep that my father could not see my happiness. How lucky I am finding a husband who cares for me like parents care for their child. Our God is so kind that he gave me my husband. You know what? He always brings sweets for me and puts them under my pillow. When I cry for my father in the night, he gives me one in my hand like I am a child crying for sweets. This makes me cry even more. I love this man more than my life. _Sonia and Arif.

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I still remember the train accident two years ago. I can still remember the fear and panic that I felt. It was Friday. My father and I were returning home after finishing our last prayers in Tongy on the top of the train. I was searching for my father. I was searching for him urgently because some people were saying a man fell from the train indicating where my father was sitting. I was so worried and was trying to find him. Suddenly someone pushed me from behind and I fell off the train. I still remember every single moment of it. It took 2-3 seconds and I was under the train. I lost my leg on the spot. All my dreams about my life and every hope of my parents’ well-being vanished while I was under those iron wheels. All I was seeing was the bottom part of the train. The train passed over me and it grabbed all my dreams with it.
After that, I was lying on the train tracks for some time. It felt like I was lying there forever. I was crying and screaming madly. I kept on screaming until my mouth went dry. I was screaming for help. There were thousands of people but no one came to help me. I lost consciousness in just a few minutes. Later I found out that our military team had sent me to the hospital.

I was the only hope of support for my parents though I have four more brothers. They all are married and they never bear any of the expenses for our parents. I was the only one who was working for my parents since childhood. Lying on the hospital bed my only thoughts were what will I do now? How I will feed my old father and mother? How will I bear all our expenses? Who will give me work? Before this accident I used to work more and earn more than ever before. I was more energetic and more stable. But after losing my leg it will certainly be hard for me to work and climb the heights of these ships for painting. Nowadays it’s truly tough for me to continue this work with one leg. I feel pain in my only leg. It’s very difficult to balance on one leg and work hard the whole day. I earn very little for my disability. Lots of people told me to become a beggar. In Bangladesh this is easier and more profitable for disabled people. But my heart never would let me do that. In begging there is no self-respect. I could never do that. But I want to earn enough money for my family. My only wish is to insure that my family is eating three times a day_Sagor- 20.

 

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When we are able to cook something good, I always hide it from my wife, Buri, and take some to my son. In the moment, it is impossible to stop thinking about my son, Afjal. But Buri always catches me when I go to my son’s house to give them food. My son lives separately, opposite our house, with his wife and son.

Last week I caught a big fish from our Kaliganga River. I can’t remember the last time we ate a large fish. Nowadays I can’t go fishing due to my chronic health condition and cold I’ve had for a while. At my age, I am not able to do any work. Sometimes my wife and I go fishing together. Most times we catch a few tiny fish and then collect vegetables from the riverbank. This is how we’ve been surviving for the last few years.

After cooking that big fish, I secretly tried to take two large pieces to my son, but my wife caught me and started yelling at me.

“You have no shame! When will you feel some shame? They never send anything to you; they never visit you for months. Why do you need to share with them every time I cook something nice for you?”

Yes I feel shame. I feel terrible shame at lunchtimes when I smell chicken or beef being cooked at my son’s house. At those times my wife looks me in the eyes and I am unable to swallow my food. She knows that I love to eat chicken and beef. My son and his wife never share anything with us. Afjal never cares how his mother and father are surviving in their old age, all alone. And we live just steps away from their house.

But I have no regrets. I always pray to Allah that my son and his family will have a wonderful, blissful life – that they should never suffer for want of food or love. I pray too that when they are old, their children will love them, unconditionally. – Amser Mia (80 years old)

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It always felt bizarre to me when my mother sent me to go to door to door asking for salt, chili, onion every day. It was almost impossible for us to cook without collecting spices from neighbors. Believe me, when I used to ask them for salt sometimes, from their looks it felt like I was asking for their heart or kidneys. Why shouldn’t they react? They were also poor and they knew that I had no ability to return their salt and chili that I was taking from them almost every day.

My mother is really old now. She is having a lot of physical problems. I drive a rickshaw the entire day so that I can manage to send her 4-5 thousand taka in money every month for her medicine and food. Between my jobs I try to pray for my mother 5 times every day. I never skip my prayers to God for my mother. My father died and left me along with my four other sisters when we were very young. I have been working the last 20 years for my family. I used to make only 15 taka a day when I was merely 9. I wished to grow up every day. I wanted to grow up in order to earn more money for my family. I have given marriages to my two elder sisters and my two younger sisters are going to school. I wake up every day at dawn for morning prayers and it helps me to drive the rickshaw for some extra hours and with that extra money I try to help with my sisters’ education. I could not go to school but I am trying my best to fulfill their own expectations for reading and studying as much they want. For that I can work every day some more hours.

I have nothing without my mother. My mother is everything to me. I visited my mother last month and took her a green saree. She loves wearing the color green. She never told me she loves green. But from the very beginning I have been seeing her wearing green sarees. You can’t imagine how happy she was seeing that saree. Her condition is not good at all. I don’t want to lose her too. She is the only umbrella over our heads. I always pray to God to please take me before her death because I might not bear the pain of losing her. – Nurun Nabi 30.

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Falling in love is one of the most beautiful, rewarding and scariest things you could ever do. When you fall for someone, you can’t think of your life for a second without them! I met him at the bathing-place on the bank of the river near our house where I used to bathe since my childhood. He was the new shopkeeper of the shop beside the dock where we go. The first moment I saw him, I fell in love. It was not as if I just liked him, I was sure that it was love and he was the man I wanted to be with my whole life. I was shy and confused to let anyone know about the situation I was going through. But always inside of me there was something missing. It was like I was missing him every moment, everywhere, whatever I was doing.

Without any reason I started visiting the nearby road where the shop was located. I started buying unnecessary things from the shop or taking baths two or three times a day so that, while going or coming back from the river I could see him. I remember, one day while having lunch after coming from the river, my mother said to me, “I think you are sick and I am thinking of taking you to the hospital. Why are you taking so many baths a day? I don’t think this is normal!” Those words made me laugh so hard that I could not finish my lunch and she became confused again. I was thinking to myself, yes I am sick; sick for that man I love. I have no idea; how time passed by. Those six months felt just like a dream. Besides him, everyone knew that I loved him. I was wondering how this could be possible that he doesn’t know how much I love him. One day while returning from school, I was searching for him inside the shop but he was nowhere. Suddenly from behind me he asked, “are you looking for me?” I didn’t answer. I just smiled looking at his beautiful face.

We had to fight a lot and for a long time in order to be together. My father was committed to his younger sister to marry me with her elder son. But I fell in love with my Shaiful and we were both in love. He told me several times to fly away with him. But I didn’t want to fly with my father’s reputation and everyone’s belief in me. I was the elder daughter of my parents. Though I was intensely in love I didn’t forget the responsibility of my family. I promised him that I will be with him no matter what but I could not fly. I told him, no one can be happy without their parents’ blessings. He kept faith in me. I wanted to marry him with my father’s permission and blessings on us. We waited to manage our family for 2 years. Finally, after a lot of storms proving our dedication and honesty, they allowed us to marry and approved our relationship.

We learned in our lives, if you wish for something, God will give it to you. You have to believe in your hope and stick to it. That’s why we named our daughter; ‘Iccha’ (wish). She is only 25 days old. We are very happy because of our daughter. We wanted a daughter from God and God granted our wish. God is always with us. We are so grateful to him. -Bilkis and Shaiful

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The last two days my two-year-old daughter, Najifa has been suffering from a high fever. We have nobody to take care of her while I am working. I always keep her on the ground near my working place while I am working, so I can keep my eyes on her. Today she is very sick, so I am trying to give her time between my job duties. I did not want to come to work today but if I don’t work how I will manage to get food for my little daughter? Yesterday I could not take her to a doctor because of the lack of money. What I earn after a whole day of work is nothing and the owner only pays at the end of the week. For carrying 1000 bricks they pay 100 taka. During the entire day I can carry only 500 bricks. I start at 5 in the morning every day. This job is so very tough and brutal.

Every day I suffer from the pain in my legs, arms and my whole body and because of this I can’t sleep at night. I never feel like waking up in the early morning but when I think about my child, I can’t be in bed after 5 in the morning.

Najifa’s father was a rickshaw puller and he died in a road accident 6 months ago. During the last six months we had no idea how to survive. I begged door to door with my daughter. Last month I came to Dhaka to work in the brick field. I never like begging; there is no respect for people who beg. I wanted to do some work, but in our village there were no opportunities for working.

I want to give a good life and education to my only daughter. When I see the face of my daughter, I feel the courage to live for another day. I will work harder and will educate my daughter so she will never need to beg from people. _ Tajmin 21

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For older people who are alone, winter nights are a curse. It is very difficult to sleep in the night. Last year I was almost dying because of the intolerable cold. Every single night I was suffering from the cold. It is our habit to sleep beside our spouse and we never know what the value of our life partner is when they are with you. My wife died two years ago because of her sickness. From then on, I am now living alone. The truth is, there are many things we fail to realize the value until it’s gone.

I found Lalu and Dholu two months ago in a dustbin. Some children were playing with the newborns and I rescued those newborns from those kids. I searched for their mother for several days but could not find her. Since then they are with me and became the children that I never had before. People laugh at me because I carry them on my lap. They go everywhere with me. They never left me for a second and I never leave them. One day, I took them to the nearby sweet shop and the manager asked me angrily, why I was bringing my dogs there and I was not allowed to enter the shop. For the last 20 years I have been eating sweets from that shop so then I corrected him. I replied, “They are not dogs they are my sons. If they can’t eat from there then I don’t want to eat either.’’ The manager laughed at me and let me enter.

This winter I am not feeling so very lonely and cold. My Lalu and Dhaalu sleep beside me. I sleep in the middle. I am feeling blessed nowadays because they are in my life. I feel more energetic and happy. Every night I go to sleep playing and having a full conversation with them and in the morning they wake me up. They changed my life, they really did. Now I have found hope for which to wake up in the morning. It feels like I am becoming a child again. Sometimes I really feel worried thinking this. What if they leave me; what will I do? How I will survive without them? Loved ones makes you dependent on them and you can’t do anything about it. – Ismail Mia 80

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I fell in love with her the very first moment I saw her. Every relationship needs to start with love at first sight. For my story, it was me. I loved her and I was sure about that. I wanted to marry her and wanted to live happily ever after. She was so beautiful and charming. But I was afraid; she was 13 years younger than me. Her father revealed to me that she was not interested in our marriage and that her parents had forced her to marry me.

I believed in love, I believed in marriage and in her. She left me after two months of our marriage. She didn’t understand my love for her. Still I remember that evening. That day, I returned home from work a little early so that I could take care of her because I was worried about her health for the last couple of days. She was not eating nor behaving normally. I came back from work and discovered that my newly married wife Sahinur was gone and had left with another man. I was looking for her everywhere but nobody saw her again after that evening.

For the last 30 years I have been living alone and never got involved with anyone again. I work here from early morning to evening and I sleep alone in my 8 ft by 8 ft rooms. After that incident with my wife, my parents wanted to arrange marriage for me several times but I could not trust anybody anymore. It’s better to be alone than to pour your trust into a bottomless basket. I have forgiven her, but I cannot forget._ Deloyar Hossain 60

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I have been hated by people from the very first moment of my life. No one has ever told me I am beautiful. Birth is always a special and blissful day for people but in my situation it was exactly the reverse. My parents were expecting a son as they had been hoping for the last 4 times. But proving their expectations wrong every time there was a girl. We are five sisters. But in my case it is even worse. I had been born as a cleft lip girl. I could not make anyone happy but shocked them instead for my birth. From that day onward my parents’ life became more challenging.

I went to school for two years and that is the worse chapter in my life. I always felt ashamed to go outside of our home. People used to laugh at me and mock me. But my parents wanted me to go to school with my sisters. I never wanted to go to school. My classmates would never sit with me on the same bench. I always had to sit alone on the last bench. No one ever played with me during the tiffin period. No one talked to me. I had no friends. How could I? I was a very scary thing for them. I could see in their eyes how frightening I was for them because my lips were split from the bottom of my nose to the end of my lower lip. I stopped going to school when I understood people were not accepting me easily. I started staying in our room rather going outside. I stopped visiting and talking with anyone. I was becoming very abnormal and frustrated.

Understanding my situation, my father wanted to do something for me. My father is a day laborer. It was almost impossible for him to do my operation because we would need a lot of money. My family collected money from door to door in our village. Our villagers realized my problem and helped my father by giving money. I had my operation three years ago. I feel much better these days. I work with my father in the field. But after all this, my family does not feel secure about my future. My four elder sisters got married at very young ages. But my parents are really worried about me and believe that no groom will be coming to see me because of this problem. They think I am not beautiful _Sonia- 15

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Every day while taking a bath I remember that day. Five years ago, my wife and I went to Cox’s Bazar after getting married and stayed for one night in a hotel room. That one day is the first and the last time I ever used my own bathroom. I took a shower three times during that day even though it was a winter season. My new bride thought that I was a crazy man. But I could not resist to do so because of the gorgeous bathroom and the unlimited amount of water.

We are living a life of five taka, brother. From the morning till the night we need a 5 taka note most of the time. Iam taking a shower by buying two buckets of water. One bucket of water cost five taka. We need minimum of 15 taka for a short shower per person. I have four people in my family. I always try to spend less water as much as possible because then my junior one can take a bath with the rest of the water. When we go to use the toilet we need another 5 taka note each time.

It is acceptable for me to take a shower outside with two buckets of water. But I always feel upset to see my only daughter and wife using a public bathroom for taking showers or in the outside buying buckets of water. It is almost impossible for me to have our own bathroom because I have been living in this slum from the very beginning of my life. I drive a rickshaw and earn very little money. With that little money it has only been possible to survive the way we are surviving for the last 15 years. But I hope one day we will live in a home where at least there will be a bathroom and no more water crisis_Sujon Mia 30

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day.”

 

 

There are about 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Since the 1970s Rohingya refugees have been coming to Bangladesh from Myanmar.

 

Sharing Nine real life stories of ‘Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’

Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash

 

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My elderly mother cannot walk. I have carried her on my back for the past seven days. I had to carry her all the way. She lost weight and became lighter, but I became weaker after seven days of a desperate journey over muddy roads, through the jungle, crossing canals on foot.

We hadn’t eaten at all. I sometimes begged others with whom we fled for food, and they gave small portions of the little they had.

Some people carried rice with them, and mixed it with pond water and we were fed for a few days. But three days ago the rice was gone.

The Myanmar military killed my only brother, Azad, and set fire to our entire house. They took our cattle and everything we had.

I cannot carry my mother anymore. I am so tired now without food and water. We don’t know how long we will have to walk like this. I don’t know how long my mother will survive like this. I wish God would show his mercy upon us. – Rasid (25)

 

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For the last seven days I have been moving with my children from one place to another. I was not able to feed them. Without food and water, they became ill and collapsed. Sometimes along the way, people would throw biscuits, but among such a crowd I was not able to catch them.

My son has had a fever for the last two nights. Before the fever he cried continuously, but now he neither cries, nor opens his eyes.

It rained heavily in the night. We were soaking wet. We had to sit in the water all night long. This is no place to be. _Raseda

 

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My son, Sahed, continuously cries for milk, but I’m not able to breastfeed him. I have not eaten anything for three days. There is nothing coming from my breasts. I have survived only by drinking water from the roadside ponds.

I delivered my only child in the jungle three days ago. My contraction pains started while fleeing from our house. Shouting from the pain, I collapsed on the roadside. Three women who were also running came forward to help me. They covered me with banana leaves and helped me to give birth to my baby.

For the past two days we have been sitting in a rough, muddy road that runs through a rice field. We become wet from the rain and dry by the hot sun of the day. There are children and old people everywhere, screaming for food and water. There is nothing to eat. We’ve slept under the open sky for the last nine nights.

When our house was burned to ashes by the Myanmar military, I walked mile after mile with my nine-month pregnancy. Everything we carried was taken from us for the river crossing to Bangladesh. I lost track of my husband, Abdul Noor, when we fled. I have no idea if he is alive or not. Maybe he has already been killed by the Myanmar army and my son has already lost his father; just like he has lost his country. – Sajeda 25

 

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The military came and burned our home. They burned everything. They killed my son and I lost my husband as we were fleeing. I came alone, traveling with others leaving their villages.

For the last seven days I have been walking day and night. I’m not able to move any longer. I am so tired, so exhausted! I have eaten nothing for the past two days, only drinking pond water.

We lost everything in Myanmar. I had gold and jewelry. We had domestic animals – six cows and ten goats. We had lots of chickens, but they were all burned when the military set fire to our house. I miss my son, my husband, our house, our animals, and the lives we had together. I have many wonderful memories.

If peace can be restored to Myanmar, and we can be safe and secure, my people will return. – Nuri Begum

 

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We have nobody except God. I have been reciting the Quran the whole day after I left my country and I pray for my country and for my people. May Allah save us from this greatest misfortune. We did not want to leave our country. We loved our country and our country is like our mother. We had everything there. We had land; we had a fishing boat; we had cattle. We were happy!

But the Myanmar military killed my husband in front of us and I managed to escape with my two children in the middle of the night. I had no rice to eat for 5 days; my two children survived by eating leaves.

Life is not easy here in these makeshift camps; I need to wait in the line for hours under the hot sun for some relief food. But I feel safe here; my children can eat here. Thank you people of Bangladesh for saving our lives and giving us a shelter.  ­_ Roksara 30

 

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I want some food. I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday evening. The Myanmar military killed my only son Hossain, who was the only person in our family able to earn a living.

They burned our homes and seized our cows – and everything we had. I fled for my life, along with fellow villagers. I came to Bangladesh at night, after eight days of walking. I only had some rice and lentils. But that’s now gone and we’re surviving by begging on the roadside.

I’m still looking for somewhere we can stay. I have been moving from place to place. I heard there is a small hill. I could stay up there. But I have no money. I have nothing with me. I need everything – household materials, and plastic sheeting for making a makeshift shelter.

Our lives in Myanmar were decent. We had land for agriculture, cattle, a vegetable garden, and chickens. We were self-sufficient. Now we have nothing – only God. – Sohura Khatun

 

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It was eight at night. My family was having dinner together when the Myanmar military suddenly came and set fire to our home. They killed my husband and they killed my brother. The soldiers tore my sister’s clothes off, put a dagger to her throat and started to rape her. After they raped my sister they set her body on fire. It was horrific and we deeply suffered. I have no idea how I managed to escape that night with my children. I carried one of my children on my back and another one on my chest. I am seven-months pregnant.

It was so painful to walk on the muddy roads. I walked with my children barefoot several days to reach the border with Bangladesh. There was no water and no food. I have no idea how I managed my children and myself along with my seven-month pregnancy. It was raining and the roads were slippery in between the rice fields. I collapsed several times from exhaustion and leg pain. Every day we got wet with rain and dried in the sun. For several days I wore the same dress and even could not bathe. I had to walk for miles and could never take a restful break!

I saw many women delivering their babies on the roadside in the middle of the night. They were helpless; they were sick; there was no help! There was no food for days. _Nesaru

 

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I don’t know why they killed my little sister Yasmin. She was just one month old. What had she ever done wrong? She was on my lap when the military broke into our room, grabbed her from me and threw her into the fire.

The Myanmar military shot my mother and father in front of us. They had come into the village and started killing people, and then burnt our homes. We fled to the jungle, but the military came and found us so we had to flee again. It took us seven days to get here by walking.

Before coming here, my elder sister Sanoyara used to play. She was fine, but now sometimes she’s afraid the military will come and kill both of us! – Januka (10)

 

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The whole day we sat waiting for help. Since morning it had been raining nonstop. Both my eleven-month old son, Anis, and I were soaked and he shivered from the cold. Every day I came and sat with my little son on the roadside. Sometimes people would stop in their cars and offer food or money. Food and money meant we would survive another week.

Myanmar soldiers had pulled my husband by the hair. He held tight to their feet, pleading for forgiveness. But they killed him, and then set his body aflame in front of us.

I hid myself and my boy in the chicken pen. From there, I watched the soldiers cut my husband’s throat with a knife. I held tight to my child’s eyes so he couldn’t see. I can’t remember when I fainted. When I awoke, everything was burned to ashes.

Early the next morning we managed to escape with others from the village. It took four days to reach the border of Bangladesh. I carried my son on my back. We walked without food. It was painful to carry him without having food or water. Sometimes we drank from ponds and the streams. We ate leaves from the trees. We slept under the open sky. It rained constantly and it was difficult walking without shoes.

When we reached the river, I gave my gold earrings and chain to the boatman. It took two days and nights to reach the other side. It was rainy and cold at night. We were 25 people in our boat and we held onto each other for protection. There was nothing to eat and the water was rough. My son’s face was pale and he was horrified! He was holding me tightly all the time. I thought I could not save my son; just as I was not able to save my husband. We felt we were dying that night! _Fatema 19

 

 

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For the last couple of weeks I have been in the Rohingya refugee camps. I have gone from dwelling to dwelling helping mainly women with children, older women and children who lost their parents. Nine hundred families received much-needed cash from me and some of my Facebook friends who contributed to this humanitarian effort and who have my heartfelt thanks. All of the Rohingya people that we were able to help send their blessings and gratitude to us for our generosity and kindness. Love and light to all of you! -GMB Akash

 

An Inspired Eye: 10 tips for encouraging Street Photography

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Have some still moments in a life full of motions. Whatever you do, do for soul feeding. You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved. Instinct and the ability to anticipate are skills that a street photographer acquires with experience, and a lot of practice. The more you walk through streets with your camera, the more you will be able to tune with the world around you. As a street photographer you are constantly scanning your surroundings. No expression or gesture can escape from you, the challenge is to record that story in your frame.

10 tips for encouraging Street Photography

# How to Frame the fleeting moment

 You are going to get the best light in a certain moments of the day. You will be finding an interesting element to shoot once in a while. Mood of the people changes very fast, so as their expressions. The environment of a whole scenario can change in a few seconds. The action, reaction, speed, mood, light, energy. color every single detail is moving with time, and you need to capture in a fleeting moment. Freeze the moment before you miss it, you need to active in the street like a pro. You need to be very fast to frame what you want to capture. It can be anything but anyone can read your creativity once they see how you frame elements of a picture. Street Photography is all about capturing fleeting moments, moments of tension, happiness, anxiety, relaxation, fun, and any moments which have a meaning to you. The framing of any moment depends on how you are connecting different elements into one photograph. If those elements compliment the atmosphere of your street photo then it will create magic.

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# Easy to feel, hard to express the feeling

Emotions are easy to feel. And easier to see. But it is not easy to forward or make someone feel the way you are feeling. Expressing the emotion of your subject to your viewers is a challenge. Try to be simple with your presentation. If the image is about drama, make it dramatic, if it is fun, bring the funniest thing, and if it is motion create the action. Do not overdo it.

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# Stay curious, Stay thirsty

You need to have an urge to know the place you are shooting. If the place does not create an interest on you, do not waste your time there. Without curiosity no good work can be produced. The feeling of ‘I know this place’, ‘I know what is going to happen’; these thought can never bring any newness in your photograph. Instead feed yourself with this kind of thought ‘This can be very interesting’, ‘I need to go to close’. You need to be curious to experiment with your art, you have to be curious to see things from the detail, with different angels, by creating different framing. Always take horizontal and vertical both shots. Your energy will reflect on your photograph. The intensity of your work defines how critically you have worked, how deeply you look through your viewfinder.

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 # Break the stereotype, there is no rule or role model

You already stored hundreds of image ideas on your mind. As soon as you start taking photograph unintentionally you may want to get the kind of shot you already put inside your head. When you become obsessed to get a certain kind of photographs you are blocking your vision, you stop seeing what you are able to see. It is important to check other photographers work. It can be interesting to get a few shots naturally that many of the photographers had done similarly but this is very important to have your own visuals. It is important to visualize images but to do that successfully you have to free your mind. There is no rule or role model. Release the tension; do not blur your vision of imagination. Challenge yourself at least once in a month to take a shot you never tried before. Get out of that   frame of mind of trying to make someone else happy.  Be wise enough to take challenge, you can fail, it can be hilarious but if you never tried something new how you will know what you love most.

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# Pay attention to patterns, actions and the detail

Pay attention to pattern. Play with light and shadow. Try to capture detail. Make the image interesting. It can be anything. Street Photography is an everyday process of learning. The more you the more you understand your kind of style. No one can take similar picture of one scene at a time. An image is not about what a photographer is seeing but how the photographer is seeing. And adding some patterns, actions and detail will create uniqueness in your image.

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 # know your camera and how it works, be technically sound

There is no specific camera for street photography, and gear alone will not make your street photography better. Do not stop because you only have a compact or a DSLR or smartphone. Pick up the camera you have and make a step in the right direction and start practicing. We need a camera to take photos and certain lenses for our own style. But beside camera also buy photography books and participate in photography workshop. If you do not have any technical knowledge of photography you will continue to do the same mistake without improving anything. It will go to vein if you invest everything for only gears not for knowledge. Do not become obsessed with gears. Keep one camera, one lens specifically. Take some time during every week to practice adjusting your camera controls, focusing distance and exposures. Be bold, and give yourself your first assignment on the street: discover the world right outside your front door.

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 # The art of seeing the unseen

 When you will master the art of seeing, you will start to see things from your inner light. Street Photography is an art of observation. It is all about have the right of amount patience with energy to enjoy. It’s a representation of how you see things. Every moment has something beautiful, some amazing things that are happening all around you, you just need to open your heart to see that with your eyes. Try to capture what you feel not just what you see.

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# How to overcome the fear, hesitation and confusion

Be curious. Travel to unknown and greet to strangers. Have some chat about the place and people. Only start to shoot when you can relate with the people and the place. Find your spirit, your true purpose! If you can really change your mindset then you will be able to change your life. Remember, true learning doesn’t happen in your home. Travel and travel a lot. Do not hesitate to go to an unknown alley. No one can be lost, every road has a destination. And if the road ends you can always come back. Shoot from distance and from close. Always remember, if you believe on yourself the world will believe on you.

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# Photography vs income

Have you stopped listening to your favourite music because it is not bringing money to you? Have you stopped reading your favorite story books just because it is not bringing anything in your pocket? Have you resisted yourself to travel all your desired places only because there is no economic return? If not, then do not put your camera aside; do not stop taking images by thinking about money/ awards/ rewards or considering Photography as a tough career. What about pleasing your soul, embracing a creative you, seeing an unknown world, discovering a new you! Aren’t these beyond monetary worthy? Be a priceless photographer who is serving for own

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# Make mistakes

I hope you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough. If you fail, pick yourself up, dusk off, learn and grow. This is how you can become great at anything by making mistakes.

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Struggling to get good street photographs? Stay patient and trust your journey. What’s meant to be, will happen. You don’t need to find out meaning of everything. Trust your dream that is going to take you where you belong. In this journey you need to stand by your side, you need to be your best friend but also you need to be your best critic. Because it needs a lot of courage to dig into yourself and see what need to improve about you, to see what still have to achieve! Everyone can accept your flaws except you. You have to become a best version of yourself and work on yourself every day, every hour, every moment.

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Upcoming Street Photography workshop with GMB Akash:

‘Street Life’ – A Street Photography Workshop with GMB Akash

Dates: 28th July (Friday) and 29th July (Saturday) 2017

Place: First Light Campus, Dhaka, Bangladesh

To apply email to akashimages@gmail or to make any queries call 01989052484. For detail visit: Street Photography with GMB Akash

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Calling you to discover mesmerizing aspects of Street Photography. By having this experience you will master the art of seeing; you will start to see things from your inner light. You will be taught how being a photographer requires much more than just looking through the view finder and pressing your finger on a cold metal button. How a photographer needs to have psychological connectivity in every encounter of the journey. The fear, hesitation, lack of confidence will be replaced by empathy, assurance and vision. This two days is not just for discovering a photographer inside of you, it is going to unfold what you have already within you. Let’s come and experience of having some magical moments of walking in the streets of street photography.

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‘A Father, A Hero’

Whether you fall or fail, whether you cry or sob, all you can look forward to is that your father believes in you. He picks you up, brushes you off, and lets you try again. Your father will always be your hero.

Sharing ten real life stories of ‘Father’

Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash

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Yesterday, I was able to buy a new dress for my daughter after two years. While I handed sixty pieces of five taka note to the seller, he yelled at me by asking if I am a beggar. My daughter held my hand and cried to leave the shop by saying that she did not want to buy any dress. I wept off her tears with one hand. Yes, I am a beggar. Ten years ago I had never thought in my nightmares that I have to live by begging from people. The night coach fell from the bridge and unbelievably I was alive. I was alive by becoming a disable. My youngest son often ask me where had I left my other hand.  And my daughter Sumaiya feed me every day by saying she knows how difficult it is to do all work with one hand.

After two years my daughter is wearing a new dress, that’s why today I brought her with me to play for some time. May be I will not be able to earn anything today, but I wanted to roam around with my little girl. I secretly borrowed this mobile phone from my neighbor without informing my wife. My daughter has no picture and I want to make this day memorable for her. When one day I will have a phone I will take a lot of pictures of my children. I want to keep good memories. It’s very difficult to send my children to school, but I am educating them all. Sometimes they cannot attend exam because giving exam fees is not always possible by me. On those days they feel very sad then I tell them, sometimes we can miss exams because the biggest exam is life which we are giving every day.

Now I will go for begging. I will place my daughter in a signal where she will wait for me. I will look at her from distant while begging.  I feel shame while she looks at me when I lend my one hand to others. But she never leaves me alone. Because there are big cars, she thinks accident can happen again, these cars could run on me and I would die. Whenever I managed to get some money I return to home by holding my daughter’s hand. We do bazaar on our way and my daughter always carry that bag. During rain we love to get wet and talk about our dreams. In someday I do not get any money, on those days we return to home silently. On those days I feel like to die but at night when my children fall in sleep by holding me I feel being alive is not a bad thing. Only bad is when my daughter waits for me in the signal by keeping her head down. When I cannot look at her eye while begging. But today is different. Because today my daughter is very happy. Today this father is not a beggar. Today this father is a king and here is his princess.

– MD. Kawsar Hossain

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I never told my children what my job was. I never wanted them to feel ashamed because of me. When my youngest daughter asked me what I did, I used to tell her hesitantly that I was a labourer. Before I went back home every day, I used to take bath in public toilets so they did not get any hint of the work I was doing. I wanted to send my daughters to school, to educate them. I wanted them to stand in front of people with dignity. I never wanted anyone to look down upon them like how everyone did to me. People always humiliated me. I invested every penny of my earnings for my daughters’ education. I never bought a new shirt, instead used the money for buying books for them. Respect, which is all I wanted them to earn for me. I was a cleaner. The day before the last date of my daughter’s college admission, I could not manage to get her admission fees. I could not work that day. I was sitting beside the rubbish, trying hard to hide my tears. All my coworkers were looking at me but no one came to speak to me. I had failed and felt heartbroken. I had no idea how to face my daughter who would ask me about the admission fees once I got back home. I am born poor. I believed nothing good can happen to a poor person. After work all the cleaners came to me, sat beside and asked if I considered them as brothers. Before I could answer, they handed me their one day’s income. When I tried to refuse everyone; they confronted by saying, ‘We will starve today if needed but our daughter has to go to college.’ I couldn’t reply them. That day I did not take a shower, I went back to my house like a cleaner. My daughter is going to finish her University very soon. Three of them do not let me go to work anymore. She has a part time job and three of them do tuition. But often she takes me to my working place. Feed all my coworkers along with me. They laugh and ask her why she feeds them so often. My daughter told them, ‘All of you starved for me that day so I can become what I am today, pray for me that I can feed you all, every day.’ Now a days I don’t feel like I am a poor man. Whoever has such children, how can he be poor!  – Idris

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We always wanted a daughter. But we have three sons. I often told my wife only fortunate have daughter. I am working as a rickshaw puller for more than thirty years. Most of my passengers were bad tempered. They always scolded me. One morning a father hired me to take his daughter to the college. He requested me to be careful in the road. He told his daughter to hold the rickshaw tightly. Before we left he told me to go slowly so the girl may not get hurt. On our way after sometime I heard the girl was crying insanely. I tried to look back and wanted to ask her if everything was okay. She scolded me and warned me not to look back. After a while she asked me to stop and started calling someone by her phone. She was screaming and crying all the time. I understood she supposed to escape from home with a boy. He did not show up. Suddenly she jumped from the rickshaw, left the money in the seat and quickly went to the train line. I was about to leave, felt sorry for the father and thought it may be good not to have a daughter.  But I was not able to paddle further; I heard her father was requesting me to be careful. I parked my vehicle and ran for the girl. She was in the rail line, moving like a sick person to harm herself. I went near to her and requested her to go back with me. She yelled at me, called me uneducated stupid, in between she kept crying insanely. I was afraid to leave her in that empty place. I let her cry, as much as she wanted. Almost three hours we were there and rain was about to come. Before the rain starts she got up and asked me to bring the rickshaw. We did not talk about anything. In the rain I paddled quickly. I dropped her near her house. Before I left she stopped me and said, ‘Uncle, you should never come at my place again, never tell anyone you know me.’ I lowered my head and returned to home. That day I did not talk to anyone, I did not eat anything. I told myself it was better not to have a daughter. After more than eight years, very recently I had an accident. I was kind of senseless. Public took me to the hospital;. When I got back my sense I saw the girl was working near me, she asked me how I was feeling, why I never went to meet her.  It was hard for me to recognize the girl in white dress, in spectacle and stethoscope. My treatment went well. I was taken to a big doctor. I was listening to her telling him, ‘Sir, he is my father’. The old doctor told her something in English. Then she touched my injured hand and replied him, ‘If this father did not support me in the past, I won’t be able to become a doctor’. I was lying in a narrow bed and tightly shut my eyes. I cannot tell anyone how I felt. This rickshaw puller has a daughter, a doctor daughter.

– Bablu Shekh (55)

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Six years ago my daughter ran away with a boy. Their married life was one month. After one month the boy disappeared. I found my daughter after three months. When I found her, she was living in the same slum room they rented and discovered something is very wrong with my child. She was abnormal and three months pregnant. I decided to stay at the house with her without forcing her to come with me. I slept in the floor and she slept in the bed. Every night she wake up and screamed by asking me to open the door as she felt the boy is knocking at the door. For every single time I opened the door and showed her there was no one.

After one year we returned to village with no mental improvement. She held her new born boy in her chest and never let anyone to take him, as she used to think the child may leave her as well. A year ago I got a marriage proposal for her. My son-in-law was a widow and had four little children. Everyone told me not to share anything about my daughter’s mental condition. I also realized I would never tell it to him including hiding about her son.

But when we were fixing the wedding date I was feeling like a criminal. The moment the groom was leaving I stopped him and took him to the river side. I opened my heart and started to tell what I had to say at our first meeting. He stopped me and said he knew everything. I was surprised and asked him how. He said the day he met my daughter she said everything and he really wanted to marry her. He left and I rushed to my daughter. I asked her what she said, she reluctantly told me, I said – ‘I am Nahar. I have mental problem. I scream at night to open door and ask to check if someone is knocking. Except this I am all okay. I also have a five years old son, whom I will take with me after we get married.’

My daughter is married for a year now, taking care of her five children wonderfully. This cow was their wedding gift which my son-in-law did not take with him. He told me to keep the cow for myself. No, my daughter is still sick. During my last visit when I asked my son-in-law what he do when Nahar screams. He said, ‘Every night I take her outside to show there is no one’. Tears were rolling all over my face when he assured me, Nahar will be okay. I also know my child will be cured. Because love is the best medicine which my daughter is receiving abundantly.

– Ali Noor

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I grew up vulnerably, struggled like an animal because I was an orphan. I ate people’s left over and sometimes snatched food from animals. I had no home and no one ever touched my forehead to check my fever. I hated everyone, every face I met. I only survived for myself, and only cared about me because I was no one for anybody. I suffered for the lack of love more than food. And with time those emptiness went deeper and I stopped laughing, dreaming and hoping. Like a donkey I worked as a labouer in people’s field, at night slept with cattle. For everyone I was a labourer. Only our village doctor was different. He often forcefully took me to his home and asked her only daughter to feed me well. It was very irritating for me because I never ate inside a house; never sat in chair and table. No one ever fanned me while serving food. Doctor’s girl continually talked to me about useless things, about things I never knew exist in the world. Most of the time, I nicely asked her to go back to her study but she always giggled and continued her nonsense while feeding me. Whenever I looked at the girl, I felt if I ever had a daughter she would look exactly like her. She never let me to leave the house without having sweets after lunch. She would come far with me by holding an umbrella and always requested me to go again. Most often my eyes got wet for no reason and I ran away without replying her. The day I last saw her, she was lying in her bed, her skin turned pale, hair was short and eyes were puffy. For the first time, I talked to her first, asked her how she was feeling. Like every day she giggled and said, ‘I become rich uncle, I got a rich disease.’ Her father asked her to stop talking and within minutes she started vomiting blood. I escaped the place without saying her any word. At night I secretly met our doctor, handed him my sixty years savings, asked him to take our daughter any place where nothing will be able to take away her smile. It’s been three months they had gone, I heard she is improving. There is still fair chance of her survival. I have been waiting at this river side every day, with a hope of their arrival. I know my daughter will come back. She will again force me to eat more. She will laugh loudly and say, ‘Uncle, do you know you got a cold heart’.

– Rohmot Miah

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I was a honey collector. I was never afraid of tiger or crocodile. And I had a beautiful daughter. My daughter could dance like a peacock. She was like a goddess of the forest. Before I could return from work she used to stand in the jungle and every day waited for me. She could win anyone’s heart with her childishness. But after the death of her mother, she could not talk since childhood. Being a poor father I was unable to take her for treatment. I still can remember her smile; with her smiles she could conquer all my sorrows. It was a rainy day of monsoon. I was coming to the home and expecting Pari on my way. But she was not there. After a twenty minutes search I found her. She was hanging from a tree, her clothes were torn apart. My child died before I arrived. I was screaming in anger, I was trying to kill everyone who appeared to console me. My child’s death still haunts me. Nowadays I spend all evening in the jungle as a guard so that no one ever lose any daughter again’ – Kashem

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I earn very little from my job. I work in a factory. So, I could not save anything. I have to meet my children’s educational expenses and my old mother’s treatment. That time my elder son finished his college and admitted into the university. Then all the time he was very sad. After many questions his mother hesitantly informed me that he wanted a laptop. I became very angry and shouted by asking, does money grows in tree. But at night I could not sleep. All the time I felt like all other children will do good result because of a laptop and son will roam around in depression. How is it possible till I am alive! Between the time my son returned home at late night, when I asked him why he replied briefly that due to group assignment he had to go in friend’s house. My son did not look into my eyes. It started hurting me lot. I went to my boss and asked him to give me the night job. He exclaimed in doubt how I could manage both day and night shift. I assured him this will be only for four months. I had to walk one hour to go to work and only returned to home once for dinner. I did not share anything at home, just said them I am paying off my loan. After four months I went to my home with bundles of money in my pocket. I was happier than ever and keep thinking how I will explain to my son what a father can do. After entering at house I saw a cycle standing at our yard. Everyone came out after listening me. My old mother giggled and said, ‘Have a look, your son bought a cycle for you by his scholarship money.’ My son was standing in front of the door by looking at the ground. I wanted to take him in my arms and roam around the entire city again just like we did often when he was a child. But a father cannot express his heart so easily. Even if a father feels to cry, they cannot do it like mother’ – Razib’s Father

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Tuni got married with my son when she was in a stage of playing with doll. Her widow mother could not provide food for Tuni and upon her request I agreed for the marriage. While Tuni’s mother handover her in my hand, she said, ‘From now, your father-in-law is your father.’ By opening her long veil little Tuni nodded to us. On our way back to home, Tuni fall down in the wet mud and started crying. To stop her crying I was holding her with my one hand and carried her mud toys in another hand. With time, my eight years old daughter-in-law turned eighteen years. My wife and daughters used to hate our daughter-in-law. Even my son never spoke to her nicely in all those years. In a poverty stricken family, I was too helpless to help Tuni. Sometimes when I heard my son to beat her, I rushed to her door and knocked vigorously to help her, but she always replied, ‘I am fine, Abba’. She was more than a daughter to me, during one winter I had pneumonia, every day she cleaned my blooded vomiting with her hands. There is no one who can be so much caring like my little girl. But she was alone, was living inside her own world. Then one day she apparently became lonely when my son died in a boat incident. Everyone blamed her for his death. She started wearing white saree and I could not look at her condition anymore. Torture of wife and daughters exceed all limits. Neither her family visited her for those ten years. One day, our village doctor came to me; he was a young man, who came from a foreign village. After long period of hesitation he said he wanted to marry Tuni. I stood up in anger, and asked him to leave. No widow ever get married in my small island, how could I agree to break societies standard. I could not sleep for whole night, and then next day I declared I will arrange for Tuni’s re-marriage. Every day I faced people’s questions and humiliation, but I was strict to my decision, because I saw a spark in my daughter’s eyes. The night before marriage, all reputed people came to me and asked to withdraw the marriage. When I declined, everyone told me that they will abandon or evict my family forever, I accepted with laughter. With them, my wife and daughters also left the house and left me alone. I asked Tuni to sleep deeply as she had to start a new life the next day. She assured me that she will solve all my worries. Next morning I found her blue body in the ground and a poison bottle next to her. Tuni left the world with all her sufferings.  I tried to hold her hand just like the day when she fell into the ground. That day Tuni was crying but after her death I clearly saw a slight smile on her face like she was saying me, there is no pain anymore, Abba. 

– Ansar Ali

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I did not get time to mourn for my wife’s death. I could not cry by remembering her memory that very moment.  Life didn’t allow me to do all that. My wife had left our daughter to me in her form. When midwife handed me my daughter she was a premature baby, maybe she was just two kg. I had never take any child in my lap, but when I held her first time, I could not drop her off in the bed, I closely kept her with my heart. People used to say, new born searches for their mother’s smell or wants to hear the sound of mother’s heartbeat. But my daughter was fully aware of mine.

When she started crying for milk, I was unable to buy anything. I kept going from door to door to the village women who can generously breastfeed my baby. After seeing my tears no one said no to me. But at night it was hard. She cried for milk and I could not provide her anything. I did not sleep for one hour at night throughout her one month age. When she went to sleep, I used to check her breathing with my finger and checked frequently if she is alive or not, sometime in fear I held her in my chest, as I did not want her to leave me.

When villagers tell me I should give her cow milk at night, I could not buy bottle for her. I had no money. I collected an empty medicine bottle and borrowed a nipple and then fixed both together. With that bottle I feed her cow milk every night. When only mothers queue to vaccinate their child, I was the only father who queued with daughter. By thus I do not know how twenty years had passed. Now my daughter is a teacher in the primary school. She did not want me to work in the field anymore, she is taking care of our expenses, and all the time she wonders why I work in the field. I do not want to share that, I am saving for her. What will happen to her when I will die? I wanted her to get married, to start a life with someone she loves. But she is reckless; she said if someone accepted me with her then only she will get married. I do not want to explain her it is not possible in the world we are living. I want her to be loved by someone unconditionally, I want her to get such love which is more powerful than the love I have given her. This is my last wish to God.

– Joyed Ali (50)

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I found out my daughter had an affair with a boy for five years. She never spoke about it as she is always afraid of me. Apart of it I assumed my children always hate me for the job I am doing since my childhood. I asked her to bring the boy and his family in our house. I decorated the house like a new bride and brought the best food for them. I have been saving for my daughter’s marriage for twenty years. That day my daughter was happiest than ever. When they started conversation they brought out a note of demand. They wanted all material things a family needs, I was calculating and nodded in agreement with every word they said. After all it’s about happiness of my daughter. The last point was they do not want me to introduce in front of their relatives and I should never go to visit my daughter. The moment they said it my daughter screamed in anger and by surprising all she slapped the boy. She angrily said, ‘My father can do the thing that no one can do. Not everyone can clean others mess. I am proud of what he does and if you do not leave my house in a minute I will beat you all.’ She broke the marriage proposal and ended her five years relationship in a second. From that day I know how fortunate and happy person I am.’ – Sweeper Monu lal

 

Being Human

Be the reason someone smiles, someone feels loved and believes in the goodness of humanity. Life is a beautiful journey between a Human Being and Being Human. Let’s take at least one step each day to cover the distance.

Sharing ten real life stories of humanity

Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash

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I had never seen any love or care for us in anyone’s eyes. When I work people give me a feeling that I came out from Hell.  We cannot sit anywhere to have a cup of tea. People look at us like they look at dirt. There were days when I hid my tears after being insulted by strangers for no reason.  I was sure there was no love left in this world for the poor.

Ten years ago, I was working beside a children’s school. My job was to clean the drain and repair the site. We blocked the road and it was taking a few days so the children had to walk to their school. I attentively did my work every day without noticing anyone who could again insult my job. One day a little girl arrived, smiling widely at me and said, ‘Why are you so dirty?’ Before I could say anything, her father dragged her away by saying, she should never talk to strangers. I felt horrible; imagined he must be telling her daughter how disgusting workers like me were. And then for a week, she came to me every time with same question, why was I so dirty. I never got a chance to speak as her father was always there to drag her away. I could not sleep those nights by thinking about a beautiful reply, ‘why I am dirty’. The poor cannot be clean all the time; we are born in dirt, raise in dirt and die in dirt and no one cares when a dirty thing left the world. I could not say any of this to her. I wanted to quickly finish the job and never wanted to see the girl ever again.

On the last day when we were finishing the work, it was Ramadan afternoon. I was very tired and down. The school was closed and the baby girl did not arrive. I felt relieved, packed everything and was about to leave when suddenly I saw the little girl coming to me by running. She could not breathe properly when she arrived. I was waiting to hear the same question, but she did not say anything and just smiled. Then I asked her where her father is. She showed me a car parked far from us. I waited to hear the same thing. And then she opened her mouth, ‘Uncle, do you like the color red?’ By bringing a packet from behind her she put it in my hand. Her father honked the horn and she quickly said, ‘I cannot clean drain, but I can help you to be clean. This shirt is for you, Uncle.’ I could not say a word and she rushed when her father repetitively honked. The girl left me in tears. She proved to me, humans still care for humans. I do not know where she is now; what she might be doing. I pray to God every day, wherever that little angle is, may God clean all the dirt from her life.

–  Shohrab

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I am very thankful to Allah. I have a home to sleep in, food to eat, children to love. There are homeless people who are living near this train station who suffer from the cold at night; beg for food in afternoon; have no one to look after them. When I see them I stop complaining to Allah about the little problems I have. Though I live in this vulnerable house, eat rice and lentils for lunch or dinner and suffer from illness, I am grateful to The Almighty for all the blessings he has given me.

But I have never done anything for anyone. Poverty made me unable to do something for the people who are less fortunate than me. This thought gives me pain all the time.  I often think, what I will take with me when I will die.

Also, I do not know, if I can manage to live another winter or not. People of my age badly suffered this time. No one notices us. When you are old and poor, you suffer silently because there will be no one to hear your pain, no one will come to you to give you warmth. In this crucial season, some of us gather together beside a fire every morning; all of us are waiting for our deaths because every winter one of us is dying. Last year, Safura died from pneumonia. We do not know who will leave us this year.

Life is not easy for me. I have never had any new cloth, but that is okay, there are many people of my age who even do not expect what I have. A few days ago for the first time in my life, I received a winter Shawl. I was not able to open and wear it for days. I keep looking at it and when I decided to wear it, I saw Mariyum, my ninety-year-old neighbor, who does not even have a proper saree. I gifted my shawl to her. I badly want her to survive this winter. If my shawl can keep her warm for some time than it will be the best reward of my life. And what about me? I can manage with this old shawl….and when I feel too cold I do prayers; you can believe it or not, when I pray I feel warm. – Morsheda Begum

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Every Friday for almost seven years along my grandma, I continue to go places and I ask people, ‘Do you know me?’ Some days I felt tired and asked her to return. But she always held me, kissed my forehead and asked me to ask the same question to more people. Most of the days we only have green chili to eatwith rice. My grandma is a beggar; she has severe knee pain. She made a wooden stroller for herself and sometimes I push her all the way while begging.  She continually told me I need to find my parents. I feel horrible when she tells me one day she will find my parents and then she will give me back to them. But she has no idea how much I enjoy her cuddling and I know no one other than her. But she is always reminding me that I have a family somewhere.

I was lost at the age of three. My grandma found me on the roadside, crying alone in the middle of strangers. No one was able to tell her who was I and except her everyone left me alone on the road. She took me to the local mosque and waited there with me for a week. I had no memory of these things. I am familiar with only the mosque where she forces me to go every Friday along with her. My grandma nicely kept my cloths which I was wearing when I was lost. I continue to walk miles with her and asking people if they know me.

She sent me to school but I hated the place where everyone asked me about my lost parents and how I feel being raised by a beggar. There was a question in the book, ‘What does your father do?’ And I answered ‘I do not know’. My teacher punished me for writing that. Then I never went back to school again. I started working for my grandma, because I do not want her to beg with her knee pain. I do not like when people yelled at her by asking us to leave. While one day my grandma was feeding me I asked her if she can live without me. Then she started crying and replied she has no one in this world without me. After that I stopped asking the question, ‘Do you know me?’ I do not want anyone to know me, my grandmother is my everything and I only want her to know me well. – Abdullah

 

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I cannot sleep at night because of the pain in my knees. I have to carry 1000 bricks every day and then I get 100 taka. I cannot rest at night because at this moment I am suffering from cold and fever. But I have to work for myself and Munia. My husband brought his second wife Munia when my son was one year old. You will not understand how it feels to see your husband living in the same room with another woman. I hated her so much! Ten years ago in a bus accident my husband died and Munia lost her legs. Now for all these years I am taking care of Munia; whatever I earn I spend for both of us. Relatives tell me many times to throw Munia from my home but I can’t. Like me she has no one to go to. My only son never comes to see me. I know very well how it feels to be abandoned – Lijiya (50)

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When I arrived from my village I was seven years old. To get one piece of bread I turned into a dog. Whenever I looked into the sky I felt my world was moving very fast, everything was buzzing all around me. I looked into the dustbin; saw how people were throwing food with filth. I wanted to run and snatch the leftover food from their hands; I imagined how good it would feel to have all that food. I wanted to say, ‘do not throw it away’, ‘please give it to me’. But people were stranger to me; they looked at me like the way they looked at a stray dog. I was hungry for two days and two nights. I drank very little water. Whenever I sipped water I felt I would vomit. Water tasted bitter and I was day dreaming for some food. Then I went to the contractor and told him I could transport five hundred bricks; he just had to give me some food. He looked at me and said, I was of no use for him, because he could count the bones on my body. Then what he saw in me I do not know. He gave me the first chance. That day when I had food I felt nothing in this world has meaning without food. My contractor asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up. I touched my plate and said, ‘When I will grow old, I will share my food’. It’s been twenty years every day I am feeding two hungry children: one in the afternoon, and another during dinner. I have no idea from where these hungry children came to me. They also know they are only welcome for one time. After having food they will be asked to write down the name of Pagla Hasan. Many times I smiled to myself after realizing they do not often recognize that I am the Hasan. They only know there is a Hasan who feeds hungry children. I thank God every time when I touch my food. There is no greater pain than hunger. When these children eat beside me I see myself in them. I feel so content when they burp and smile after having a peaceful meal. People of this world have no idea how valuable two grains of rice is for a hungry stomach.

– Hasan

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Billu was injured when I found him beside the train track. He was walking with pain and looking at me for help. I am from a very poor family. Even sometimes, my housemaid mother has to beg for rice so that she can equally feed her three daughters. Taking a cat as a pet does not suit beggars. I looked away and tried to cross the road by ignoring him. When I looked back I saw him looking at me with despair. Then helplessly I went back and embraced him.

We, three sisters hid him from my mother’s eyes for three days. Then one morning, we woke up when amma was screaming in anger. Billu tried to sleep in her cozy blanket and when she screamed in surprise he peed on it. My mother briskly took him and headed for the rail line; three of us begged her not to throw Billu away but she listened to no one. The whole day none of us ate anything….with great surprise Billu returned to us secretly at night by himself. The next morning, my mother took him to a far away place. And informed us the cat could never be able to find us again. But the genius came back again. And again my mother furiously took him with her and left him in a place that we never heard of before. That night we were wide awake to welcome him at home but he did not come back.

The next day, we did not take any food or water, including my mother. During the evening she rushed to search for Billu, by skipping her work. My mother found Billu injured in the same place she had left him. Local people informed her some boys had beaten up him for fun. My mother spent her one month salary on Billu and because of our care he is now fat and naughty.  I asked amma, why she allowed him to be with us. She said, our father left us in an abandoned place and fled because he never wanted daughters. She could never do the same even with an animal. Billu is now our naughty brother, who eats most of our food and sleeps only with my mother. – Rojina

 

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I am a care taker of a mosque. It was my mother’s wish that I should spend my life in the path of Allah. I accepted it after her death. I studied in the village Maktab and took the responsibility of taking care of the mosque I am serving now. I have met different kinds of people the last twenty years. Some are very pious, some are not, some tell lies all the time, some always speak the truth, some help the poor from their heart, some just want to show off. But I met someone whose story I will never forgot. He used to always arrive at the mosque first in the morning. I have never seen him talk to anyone ever. He was not even from our area. Every day after prayers when everyone left the mosque he stayed there and spent hours there by crying alone. Many days I had goosebumps and wondered what made this man so sorrowful. Eventually I learnt that he is a very rich man who lives far away from our place. He established a mosque, a madrassa, a school and an old persons’ home. He has everything that a man can only dream of. After knowing all this I became more interested in knowing the reason of his arrival in this particular mosque and what made him cry so much. One day when he was distributing clothes and food among beggars and the poor, with all my courage I questioned him. He was looking at me for some time and then surprisingly, he said he will answer me the next morning. I could not even sleep that night. That morning when everyone left, he came and sat with me. Then I got to know what I did not even imagine in my worst dreams. The man was left outside this mosque when he was five to seven days old. When his father (who eventually adopted him) came for his Fazaar Prayer he saw a dog trying to open the tie of a folded cloth and started to push towards him. He went there and opened the cloth where he found the baby boy fighting with death and not responding. Without finishing his prayer he took the baby to a doctor while the Imam helped him all the way. The man who had no child adopted him afterward, and tried hard to find the baby boy’s actual parents. But there was no trace of his identity. They raised him perfectly; he is following Islam with all his heart. But since the day he knew about this truth, he was no longer able to rest in peace. He wanted to know from where he had come, who were his parents, why someone wanted to kill him and threw him in the road. He was wrapped by a mustard coloured cloth which implies that he might not even be a Muslim by birth. When he was talking to me about this I lost the words on how to console him but I tried with my heart. I told him, ‘You are the best human being I have ever met. Know that Allah knows everything and whatever happened to you, there must be a reason for that. You should not spend a single day with this thought of sadness which is insulting your current parents’ love and Allah’s love for you. If you believe in their love, you will not hurt your heart anymore. Please do not come to this place ever again; it will not let you forget your past.’ He did not answer me and left. Since that day, he never came here again, I do not know if I did right or wrong, but I felt being human should be our first identity, and all I wanted was to ease his pain as another human.

– Jainal Abedin (36)

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The time I needed my family’s support, they left me alone. I was vulnerable and heartbroken. At that time Potu’s mother gave me shelter. Despite our religious differences, differences of my cast and creed, she treated me as a family member. No one ever talked to me nicely but Potu’s mother was the one who showered me love and respect. I celebrated Eid with her and she gifted me new clothes in my puja. I know how difficult it was for her to take me into their house after facing economic and social problems. But she often said Allah is the one to judge, not the people. She passed away while giving birth to Potu. For me he is my blood grandson. I taught him everything his mother should teach him if she would be alive. Every morning I wake him up for his prayers. I will give him the love that I learned from his amazing mother. Now he is my world.

– Al-Amin’s (Potu) grandma       

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No one has any concern. Even if somebody dies, even if the whole world gets destroyed, no one really cares! What kind of times are we are all living in? Human are no longer human! Now people do not think of anything else but themselves.  After one hour of continuous efforts, I alone brought the fire under control. To bring water I had to cross the bridge and fell so many times, but no one came to help to stop the fire. ‘The fire will not harm my house even if the whole area is destroyed.’ That was the attitude of all viewers.  By neglecting our requests, factories, tanneries throw wastage here daily; they do not even care for school-going children. Today may be someone’s cigarette created this fire and it might destroy the whole area. Even my neighbor stopped me from coming here, lightly advised, ‘why endanger your own life for others’? What’s wrong with us? I am very tired; I am very depressed, I feel ashamed as a human being to see how hundreds of people find entertainment by watching me from far, without helping a bit’

– Sumon (27)

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‘I lost many things in my life and by standing at the end of my life, now I can tell you how I gained everything back that I had lost. My husband died when during flood, a tree had fallen on him. I was standing just ten feet away from him in water. That night, I was seven months pregnant. After losing my husband, my house and everything I had, I felt like committing suicide. But I became a mother after waiting for twelve years for a child. I had to survive for my child, so I came to the city to search for work. After so many struggles I gave birth to my son. The midwife told me, my son had problems and asked me to be prepared for his death. When he died after seven days, I had no one beside me and had no money. Even if you die you need money but no one came forward to help me. Only some orphan-street children gave me money, so I could do his last work. After I buried him when I returned to my hut, I didn’t cry. From that day, I no longer look behind at what I had lost. Since that day, for thirty years, I have feed one orphan each day from my food. I lost my child but I kept giving the portion of his love to every miserable child I met on my way.

 

For the last five years, I have been suffering from tuberculosis and heart problems. Now all those orphan children grew up and are taking care of me. I lost one child but now I have hundred’ – Maa Asha

Angels on Street

Imagine you are six years old. Left alone on the street. Your ragged clothes are all you have with you. You are bare foot and empty hand. You have no idea what to eat and where to sleep. You roam around at places for couple of hours. Whenever you are trying to go close to people they are yelling at you. And then you are hungry and have no idea how to get some food or a glass of water.  You remain hungry and thirsty all day long and there is no place to rest or seat. And finally night arrives when you meet people like you, who are waiting to sleep nearby closed shops and counters. You are trying to sleep but you shiver in fever. There is no one to hold you other than the newly met street dog who is the only family you have now. Welcome to street!

Sharing Ten real life stories of ‘Angels on Street’, featured first on my Facebook page.  GMB Akash

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I did not get anything to eat yesterday. I slept hungry. But now I am feeling lucky to get this rotten bread. My shoes, cloth and food everything comes from this dump yard. Aren’t you asking me about the odor? I was born in this place, someone left me here after my birth, smell of this place make me feel like a home. This is my home and these dogs, birds are my family.

– Abu (10)

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One day my father did not return home from work. We searched him everywhere. We went to hospital, spent days by knocking at police station but we found out nothing. I had two younger brothers who had no idea what was happening. After a year of his disappearance everyone started telling that he flew with another woman.  My mother was changing and treating us worse in every passing day. Once she locked me in the toilet and punished me for hours knowing well how much I was afraid of darkness. Then one morning, I wake up and saw she is gone. She as well escaped with someone. I was eleven years old and did not have enough time to find out anything as my brothers were crying all the time. We passed two days without food or any help. After begging to everyone, villagers sat in a meeting with my uncles, aunts and grandparents. My grandparents accepted my two brothers and decided to send me to work as a housemaid in Dhaka. A girl is a burden that is what my relatives told to everyone. On my way to Dhaka, I discovered the woman who was accompanying me was telling my price to someone on the phone. I had no idea who was selling me to whom but I knew I need to escape. I took an enormous brick and hit on her head, she was bleeding heavily but I did not look back. This world is a bad place but I have already learned to survive – Nargis (13)

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I have nobody. I live alone. Sometimes I go to play with children of this neighborhood. They do not take me to participate in their game. They laugh at me because I have no idea where my parents live. They mocked me by making my parents name. I do not mind. Humiliation is a part of my life. That’s why now-a-days, all the time I play alone. You will not feel bad anymore when you will learn how to enjoy alone. That’s how I stopped looking for friends. I am happy and can move freely now. By the way, I call myself bird, isn’t this a good name?
– Pakhi (10)

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My mother was a prostitute. I was born in a brothel. I never saw her happy but she smiled every single time I looked at her. Everyone at our place was unhappy because my mother gave birth to a boy. My mother was different. She never allowed me to go near her. I wanted to sleep in her lap; I wanted to get her kisses. But she never let me to touch her. Sometimes I wanted to hate her badly. Some days when I woke up, I saw her torturing herself by scratching her hands, feet with sharp blades. I wiped her blood, I wiped her face, but she never cried. She always smiled to me. One day I asked her where my father lived, my prostitute mother pointed at her heart. I tried to hate her with all my heart. Every day, everyone called me a bastard. It was same in the slum where me and my mother arrived after fled from brothel to start a new life. No one gave work to my mother, no one talked to us. Often times people threw stones in the roof of our plastic hut. The day my mother died, she was very clam. For the first time she kissed me on my cheeks. Told me that, she is thankful to me for choosing her as a mother, for giving her love that she never received in her life. My mother left me alone. She cannot come to me. But I can go to her.

– Shadhin (13)

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I was very afraid of dogs. Now it’s been one month I cannot sleep, if dogs do not sleep around me. Often times, I cry during sleep. When my friend Jewel shakes my shoulder, I usually stop crying. In the first day, when I arrived in Sadarghat, street boys had beaten up me a lot. They said it is needed to make street boys strong. But I am not at all strong. I cry in simple things. But people around me do not have time to notice my crying and that I feel relieved for that. I cried a lot, when my mother got married after death of my father. When I was following the groom’s group, she called me and said, if I try to follow her, she will throw me in the river. My grandparents also refused me to take inside their home. Now-a-days I do not feel that much bad, my mother was very poor, so how she could take care of me! When we street boys try to sleep at night, we talked about our dreams. One day I will have a house, where I will have a bed. That time if I want, I can eat hot rice by cooking in the kitchen, I do not have to save money for taking shower, and there will be a bathroom in my house. My friend Jewel, request me to give him a place inside my house. I said, if he stop telling lie, I will think about it – Israfil (8)

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My step mother was like a rose. After my father got married with my mother, I used to be with her all the time. She could tell all kind of funny jokes; she made various kinds of pickles for me. When everyone used to say, my mother is a witch, I burst into tears and fought with them. I used to love my mother a lot. Even I loved my brother who came with my new mother. I used to play with him and shared all my things. One day we got to know a little brother will come soon into our life. I was so happy, so was my family. Mother one day told me, she wanted to go to ride the boat in river, and wanted me to be with her.  She told me not to share this with my father, as he never would let me to go to river, because I am afraid of water. Without telling anything to anyone, I went with my mother and her cousin for a boat ride. That was a beautiful afternoon. When the boat went in the middle of river, my mother asked me to pick a floating wild flower for her. While I bend my head to pick the flower, I was pushed into the river. Before I understood anything I was drowning in the middle of the river. While screaming for help I saw their boat went very far from me. I do not know how much distance I passed while a fisherman boat saved me. With the fisherman, I got into a launch. I did not try to find out my lost home. That one push took my childhood and I become mature. I did many kind of works to survive. Now I help the van owner while he carries sacks. Many years had passed but still I am having the nightmare that I am drowning in the river and everyone is laughing.

– Manik (12)

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I have to work with a lot of attention. This is not easy to find usable stuff from garbage. Sometimes after whole day I found one thing to sell in the recycle shop. And in a good day I can find biscuits. Not ordinary biscuits, the one which has cream. That’s my favorite. Some days I find biscuits which tastes very sour but my dog like to have that, so I give him without eating those. And in a very bad day, I cut my feet. I think people do not know that children work in the garbage on bare foot. They throw away broken glasses which often scratch our feet. Sometimes it bleeds heavily. It hurts a lot. I and my dog have had many scars in our legs. That’s why now a days I am keeping clothes with me. If it bleeds I tie and continue to work.

– Jesmine (7)

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My name is Rasel and I do not know who gave me this name. I am an orphan. I am living in street for four years. When I arrived in Dhaka I was injured and hungry, but no one cared about street people. I cried so many days because I wanted someone to care for me or talk to me with a smile. But people have no time for love. So, I started loving everyone. I share my food and take care of my street friends. Meet with my new friend, Kutum, it means guest, and she is my guest. I cured her injury with my love and now taking care of her. I will look after her, as long as she will not leave me. But I will never leave Kutum. I know how it feels to be alone and being unloved.

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My mother flew with me when my father wanted to make me disable, after my birth, so that he could use me, for begging. I do not know what my mother actually does; she sleeps whole day and works at night when I sleep. We live in street, our neighbors and police calls me ‘whore’s daughter’, mom told me not to reply them, as bad people always talk bad. I am a flower seller, I sell flowers, I do not beg. But people have no time to look at flowers. I pop into the window of big cars and see beautiful children, with their parents. Sometimes I wonder, didn’t their dad want to sell their organ or want to make them disable for begging! One day a rich mom buy all my flowers for her girl but when the girl wanted to give me money, she said not to touch me, I might have disease. The baby girl threw the money in the air and I caught that. The day made me the best flower seller among all – Lutfa

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My problem is I am a fool and I cannot tell a lie. A few days ago a beggar hired me to act as her blind child. We supposed to roam around the city’s signal and beg for food. At the end of the day she promised me to give fifty taka and food. I rehearsal well and she was convinced that I acted marvelous. And then we started our mission. For an hour it was going good, but then we went near to a car window and a lady with her child was giving me some money. I saw the boy was playing with a car. The lady seemed generous so instead of taking the money I told her, ‘Madam, I am a blind child, I have no toys, can you please give your son’s red car?’ After a few minutes the car driver was chasing behind me and I was running with my life by leaving my fake beggar mother behind.

– Polash (10)

You can be part of making some of them smile, you can also tell them they are loved, you can give them some hope for a day or life time. Last year I organized three events for more than 2000 unprivileged children of streets, dump yard, brick field and child labourer. This year I want to reach more and want you as well to be part of this happiness. You can send clothes, slippers, toys, dry food for these children. Email me at akashimages@gmail.com to contribute for a smile. I will send you detail how you can become someone’s light.

To check my last year’s event with unprivileged children: 

Many Miles Many Smiles

Today is Our Holiday

Eid Love

           

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